Holiday Party Planning Guide

Hostessing + Entertaining Tips Love the Holidays

Ho Ho, Shalom, Shalom. It’s twinkle lights, cold weather, early nights and delicious treats.

December magic is in the air!

Yup, the holiday season is finally here and what better way to get into the holiday spirit than throwing a party. This is the perfect time of year to cut loose, have some fun and show your friends, family and loved ones just how much they mean to you by hosting a festive gathering.

What? No extra dough, no bonus, no time? Have no fear, a party doesn’t have to break the bank or require a leave of absence.  Let me show you how to  pull off a a little holiday gathering complete with simple and delicious food, recipes, cocktails and decor ideas including my top holiday-party planning tips.

Whether you’re short on time or cash this is for YOU!

The Lazy Girls Holiday Party Planning Tips & Cheat Sheet:

Food & Menu Tips

1. No need to serve an entire meal or meandering buffet.  Pick one course that you love and build the party around that.  You love appetizers – host a crostini party.  Pizza more your style – create a DIY gourmet pizza night. Pick up pre-made pizza dough at your favorite pizza joint, set up the toppings and invite guests to have fun rolling out their own dough and topping their pizzas.  Have a delicious recipe for stew – set up a family style pot in the middle of the table with a big batch of fresh cranberry-cornbread muffins, a simple green salad and toast to the holidays.


2. …or skip the meal altogether and go right to the good stuff. Invite friends over for a decadent dessert party.  Serve a rich and gooey Toffee Soaked Brownie  {ok this links you to the seriously easiest and most delicious recipe ever!} Serve with a glass of champagne and you won’t miss the meal. Or host a holiday chocolate and wine pairing party. Pick up a few bars of assorted gourmet chocolates and pair with red wine. This is my new obsession and my all-time favorite chocolatier: Compartes  order online and get them delivered to your door.


3. Martinis and Popcorn are the new ‘it’ couple.  Set up a DIY martini bar complete with shaker, olives, onions and twists. Cook up a few batches of sweet and savory gourmet popcorn and let your guests mix ‘n match their own toppings. Serve in festive holiday decorated Chinese to-go containers and you have a moveable feast.

Popcorn Topping Combos:

  • Olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, pink Himalayan salt and grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Truffle oil, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Smoked Paprika & Sea Salt
  • Toasted sesame oil, wasabi, ginger and sesame seeds
  • Olive oil, Provencal herbs and dried cranberries
  • Dark chocolate shavings and smoky sea salt…I’m drooling.

4. DIY melted gourmet cheese sandwiches for a heartier feast.  Dust off the panini press or get out the frying pan, slice some country bread, grate  Manchego, smoked gouda, gruyere and aged cheddar cheese. Fill small bowls with tapenade, pesto, arugula, figs, sage, apples, cranberry sauce and anything else that suits your gourmand fancy. Coat both sides of the bread with butter or olive oil.  Load up the bread with cheese and fillers. Pan sear on both sides until golden brown and melted in the middle.  Tip: you can make ahead and keep warm in the oven on 300. Pair with great holiday wine and call it a party!

Cocktails & Bar Tips

1. Nix the full bar.

2. Serve a signature cocktail throughout the party – It’s a favorite amongst us experts and party girls because it’s fun and easy. Have some fun coming up with a name! ‘Santa’s Helper’, ‘Gut Yontiff’, ‘Holiday Spirit’,  ‘Mistletoe’.  Here’s a simple and festive champagne cocktail for you.

3. Select one wine that pairs well with all your food and stick with that. This way you don’t end up opening and wasting multiple bottles of different wine.

4. Lower the Bar.  To create the feel of a full bar, set up the bar with all the ingredients, stemware and fruit to make just 3 cocktails.  Martinis, Winter cosmos, Hot Toddys – try something new and introduce your guests to the latest holiday cocktail recipes.  These will absolutely keep your cocktail spirits flowing and guests full of cheer.

5. Set up your bar station on the other side of the room and away from the kitchen.  This will help keep unwanted traffic down in your kitchen and get party guests to flow.

I love Manhattans in the Winter! Check out this Manhattan recipe, not only is it tasty but it warms your ears.



3/4 oz sweet Vermouth

2 1/2 oz Bourbon whiskey

1 dash Bitters

1 maraschino cherry

1 twist orange peel

Directions: Combine the vermouth, bourbon whiskey, and bitters with 2 – 3 ice cubes in a mixing glass. Stir gently, don’t bruise the spirits and cloud the drink. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink to release the oils but don’t drop it in.

Design & Decor Tips

1. Let your, or your neighbor’s, yard trimmings work for you. Use fresh cut branches and foliage for drama,  No dead flowers here, these arrangements will take you all the way through to New Years.

2.  Go monochromatic – choose one color, white, gold, silver and jewel tones; burgundy, green, brown for your accent.  Use one color for your table cloth, napkins, plates and then add your pop of color – this is the elegant and chic way to go.  It also works beautifully in smaller spaces.

3. Forgo the florist and bring on the Winter fruits, nuts, pine cones and beautiful greens for centerpieces.

sparkle44. Create a gorgeous magical glow. Twinkle lights give the room pizzazz and your house plants pop.  Weave them over and around a prominent mirror, down the middle of your buffet table, or wrapped around your center pieces for guaranteed WOW!

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5.  Create a scene – instead of one big tree, opt for 3-5 smaller trees placed in a cluster in the middle of a room on and around a table in front of a mirror or a window.

It breaks my heart when I hear people say  ‘Thank God the holidays are over’. I understand that the stress, anxiety and compressed days have a way of turning what the holidays are supposed to mean upside down.  I sincerely hope these tips will offer some relief and inspire you to gather some friends for a fun and beautiful holiday season – but most of all make YOU the life of the party!

XO ~ L

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